BETTER LATE THAN NEVER:  PI DAY

Yes, I should have done it when my Youngest Son wrote and presented a speech on it a couple of years ago (which made him quite famous).  But it’s “better late than never”, so yesterday we celebrated BIG.

We ate nothing but pie.

The menu looked like this:

It was terribly hard to choose, because there really are an awful lot of pies out there.  I didn’t include any of the cream pies, for example, nor did we have any ice cream pie. There’s a whole slew of Bisquick Impossible pies, and they are all fantastic.  Plus, there are only so many hours in the day for this cook to deal with it!

So, the night before, I worked on breakfast and lunch.  These are all made with gluten-free flour, but if you want to use wheat, simply substitute regular wheat flour for the Better Batter GF flour mix that I used.

Because my guys take their lunch to school, I made the French Canadian Tourtiere first, to kinda set the tone with its decoration. 

It comes from my battered La Leche League’s Whole Foods for the Whole Family cookbook and is a hearty meat pie that is a favorite in this house.  I bake it in a 10″ pie pan instead of the 9″  they recommend, because usually my grocery store gives me more meat than the recipe calls for.

French Canadian Tourtiere

pastry dough for a 2-crust 9″ pie  (go to the end of this post to see
    my gluten-free pie crust recipe)
1 1/2 lbs. mixture of lean ground pork and hamburger (sometimes my
    store sells a “meatloaf mix” that includes veal
1 medium onion, chopped
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. salt
dash of pepper
1/2 C. hot water
1/4 tsp. crushed celery seeds
1 large potato, grated

1.  Brown the meat and onions in a large pot.  Pour off the grease.  Add the
      rest of the ingredients and cook  uncovered for 20 minutes. 
2.  Make the pie crust, put the meat mixture inside, and add the pie crust
      top.  Prick with a fork.
3.  Bake at 450 degrees for 30 minutes until the crust is brown.

Next, I worked on the Ham & Cheese Pocket Pies.  These are the to die for sort of things that are great for picnics, snacks, and travel. 
 

My Ham & Cheese Pocket Pies

GF Crust:  I use the directions from Better Batter for Hot Pocket Dough, which tends to stick together better:

    2 C. Better Batter flour
    1 tsp. salt
    1 C. butter
    4 T. cream cheese
    8 T. ice water
    egg white

1.    Combine the flour, salt, butter, and cream cheese in a food processor
      until coarse crumbs form.  With motor running, add ice water and process
      just a bit more to form a dough.
2.    Divide it into 16 balls and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.

Wheat Crust:  Just make your favorite pie crust for a 2-crust 9″ pie.

Mix together:

1 lb. shaved ham–chopped
1 C. cheese (cheddar or mozarella)
15 oz. can pizza sauce

Make the pockets:

1.    Roll out each ball into a circle.  With the GF recipe, I do this between
      2 sheets of saran.  Gently remove the circle from the saran and hold it in
      one hand while using the other hand to scoop up some of the meat/cheese
      mixture and place it in a row in the center of the circle.
2.    Fold the circle in half and crimp the edges with your fingers.
3.    Place all the pockets onto a greased cookie sheet, brush with egg white,
      and bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes.

Try really hard to get the pockets sealed well, but for those of you who know GF flour, that can be hard to do! 

One great thing is that it never seems to matter whether or not you succeed in making these perfectly beautiful–they always look great in the end!

I made the Connemarra Apple Tart next.  It is gently sweet with a slightly cake-like crust.  In place of the self-rising wheat flour, I used Better Batter and 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder.  The recipe can be found here (although my own calls for 1/4 cup of sugar in the topping as well as in the crust).

The next day, I armed myself with video versions of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and continued on baking.  First up was the Impossible Broccoli Pie, creamy-cheesy-smooth.  With Betty Crocker now selling a gluten-free version of their Bisquick, it was impossibly easy to convert the original recipe (its real name is Impossible Brunch Pie).

In looking for more side dishes, I decided to try a new recipe for a Vidalia Onion Pie.  I notice that in eating leftovers today, it is the pie I have been gravitating to the most.  I found it at allrecipes.com.  Once again I used Better Batter to make a single pie crust, baked it for 8 minutes at 350 degrees and stuffed it full of the onion mixture.

Next came the Chicken Pot Pie.  I’ve combined many versions of this old-fashioned dish to make my own, as simply as possible.  The chicken and onion, already chopped, come from my freezer.  The spices are so important to make this dish stay away from blandness.

 

My Chicken Pot Pie

2 C. chicken–chopped (I do chicken & turkeys in big batches, then cut it up
      and freeze it in 2 C. portions for whatever recipe might come along)
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. marjoram
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. sage
1/2 to 1 tsp. basil
1 1/2 C. chicken broth
3 large carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1/2 C. onion, chopped
1/3 C. flour (Better Batter)
3/4 C. milk
5 oz. (1 C.) frozen peas, thawed

1.    Bring carrots, celery, onion, and broth to a boil; cover and simmer for 10 minutes. 

2.    Drain the broth from the carrots/onions into a microwavable dish such as a
      medium glass casserole that already has the flour and milk in it.  Mix well with
      a wire whisk and microwave this into a thick sauce:  Microwave on HIGH for
      1 minute; stir.  Micro on HI for 1 minute; stir.  Micro on HI 1 minute; stir.

3.    Meanwhile, put these into a large mixing bowl:  chicken, carrots/onions, peas,
      and spices.  Then add the thick sauce and stir.

4.    Pour all into a greased 9 X 13 glass dish.

5.    Make pastry dough for a 2-crust 9″ pie and roll it into a rectangle shape of
      14″ X 10″.  Lay it on top and make slits for the steam.

6.    Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour till golden.

Last, but not least was the Cherry Pie.  HOWEVER:  Are you exhausted from reading all this?  I certainly was from making it!  So the cherry pie never got made.  I don’t think any of us noticed at all.
__________

My Gluten-Free Pie Crust

With Better Batter gluten-free four mix, I just use my regular old pie crust recipe and substitute it for the wheat flour, cup-for-cup.  My recipe comes from the back of the Crisco can:

2 C. flour
1 tsp. salt
3/4 C. Crisco shortening
6-8 T. water

With GF flour, it’s easier to see how much water you should be adding.  You have to make sure it isn’t too dry or it will be a crumbly mess.  So add enough water to make it really stick together–almost gloppy.

I have less stress when I roll it out between 2 sheets of saran.  Still–sometimes my frustration level gets really high.  Be assured that rather than killing yourself over getting that rolled-out dough over to the pan without tearing, you might just consider throwing the broken bits on top of the pie.  That’s what I did with the rectangular Chicken Pot Pie above (see the photo).  Looks OK, doesn’t it?

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